Group pours cold water on idea of women-only varsity

group pours cold water on idea of women-only varsity

Most students in Malaysia’s public universities are women.

PETALING JAYA: A women’s group has rejected the idea of a women-only university, which Barisan Nasional is proposing for inclusion in its general election manifesto.

Women’s Innovative Empowerment Network group operations director Junaida Hamid said the move would be divisive.

“If you want to have diversity and inclusivity, a research centre focused on women’s leadership with representation at all levels within public universities would serve better,” she told FMT.

Junaida said it might not be a strategic use of resources given that inclusivity and alignment were key when approaching matters of diversity.

“More due diligence needs to be done before we start spending taxpayer money,” she said. “We are after all beholden to the taxpayer to justify the return on investment before we do things that may make all efforts futile.”

She said plenty of opportunities were already available for Malaysian women but added that these needed to be promoted and marketed.

On Wednesday, Umno vice-president Khaled Nordin said the proposed university would serve as a dedicated research centre for issues concerning women and would promote women in leadership.

Khaled, who is leading the drafting of BN’s manifesto, said the idea was mooted by Wanita BN.

Former deputy education minister Teo Nie Ching said the idea was noble but asked why existing public universities could not take up the task of solving issues concerning women and promoting women in leadership.

“While there are many areas where we need to improve women’s representation, like in politics, what we see in education is a reverse gender gap where there are more women than men in public universities,” she told FMT.

She noted that 61% of students in public universities were female.

“So, frankly speaking, I don’t know the purpose of setting up a women-only public university,” she said.

Teo added that improving existing institutions would be a cheaper option than setting up an entirely new institution.

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